Imagine that you downloaded a super-popular parkour game, and the in-game characters instantly gained new skills. After a few minutes of introductory instruction, climbing walls and over obstacles, you’re ready for a bigger challenge. You teleport yourself to one of your favorite games, GTA: Metaverse, and follow a route set by another player, quickly flipping over the hood of a car and jumping from roof to roof. Wait a minute… what’s that glowing object under the postbox? A hyper-evolved fire-breathing dragon, you take a pokeball from your backpack, catch it, and keep going…
This gameplay scenario is not possible today, but it may be possible in the future. Composability and interoperability will be implemented within the game, and they will revolutionize the way games are built and played. Components in a game can be used in another game.
Game developers build products faster because they don’t have to start from scratch every time. With the ability to try new things and take new risks, they will create better creative games, and more developers will join because the barriers to game development will be lower. What new “meta experiences” will be included in the essence of a game, as mentioned earlier in the article, that can be played across multiple games.
Of course, any discussion of “meta-experience” cannot avoid a concept that has been talked about many times: the Metaverse. In fact, many people see the Metaverse as a complex game, but its potential is higher than we think. At the end of the day, the Metaverse will represent everything we will interact and communicate with others online in the future. On the basis of game technology and game production process, only game creators are the key to unlocking the potential of the Metaverse.
Why Game Creator? No other industry has so much experience building large-scale online worlds where thousands (sometimes tens of millions) of online participants interact with each other, often in real time. Now games are not just “playing”, they can also “trade”, “build”, “live broadcast” or “buy things”, and the Metaverse has added more actions, such as “work” or “fall in love”. Just as microservices and cloud computing started a wave of innovation in the tech industry, I believe the next generation of gaming technology will usher in a new generation of gaming innovation and creativity.
Many games today already support UGC, allowing players to create their own extended versions of existing games. Some games, like Roblox and Fortnite, are so malleable that they’ve called themselves the Metaverse.However, the current generation of game technology is still largely built for single-player games, and can only help us get to this point.
The gaming revolution will require comprehensive innovation across the technology stack, from production pipelines and creative tools, to game engines and multiplayer networks, to data analytics and online services.Recently, a16z analyst James Gwertzman wrote about his vision for the game’s transformative phase, detailing the areas of innovation needed to usher in a new era.
Here’s what Gamelook compiled in full:
The future of gaming
For a long time, games were mostly monolithic, fixed experiences. Developers build, release, and start working on sequels. Players buy, experience, and then switch games after running out of content. Usually, a traditional game can only provide 10-20 hours of gameplay experience.
We are now in the age of games as a service (GaaS), where developers keep updating games after release, and many games also feature Metaverse-style UGC features such as virtual concerts and educational content.Roblox and Minecraft have even launched in-game marketplaces, where players and creators can get paid for their work.
Importantly, however, these games are still (purposefully) isolated from each other, and while their respective worlds may be immersive, they are closed ecosystems with nothing to transfer between each other, including resources, skills , content, or friends.
So how can we move beyond these legacy walled gardens and unlock the potential of the Metaverse? As composability and interoperability become important concepts for Metaverse games, we need to rethink how we approach the following:
identity. In the Metaverse, players need a single identity that can be used across many games across multiple gaming platforms. Today’s platforms insist that players have a corresponding user profile. For every new game, players must The tedious rebuilding of your profile and reputation from scratch.
friend. Likewise, games today maintain separate friend lists, and at best use a social platform account like Facebook as a source of friends. Ideally, your network of friends would follow you from game to game, making it easier to find people to play with and share competitive leaderboard information.
Personal belongings. Currently, items you acquire in one game cannot be transferred or used in another, and for good reason. Allowing players to bring a modern assault rifle into a medieval game might be temporarily satisfying but quickly ruin the game, however, with reasonable restraints, exchanging some items between different games can open up new ideas and improvisations play.
play. Today’s games are closely related to how they are played, and the whole joy of a “platformer” genre like Super Mario Odyssey, for example, is to gain control over a virtual world. But by opening up the game and allowing elements to “mix”, it’s easier for players to gain new experiences and explore their own stories.
I see these changes taking place at three distinct levels of game development: technical (game engine), creative (content production), and experiential (online operations). For each level, there are clear opportunities for innovation, which I’ll talk about later.
NOTE: Making a game is a complex process that requires many steps, even more so than any other art form, it is highly non-linear and requires frequent loops and iterations because no matter how much something looks on paper It’s fun, you can’t tell if it’s really fun until you actually experience it. In this sense, game development is more akin to choreographing a new dance, where the real work is done iteratively in the studio with dancers.
The expandable section below provides an overview of the game production process and may be helpful to readers unfamiliar with the overall process of game development.
Technical level: Refactoring the game engine
At the heart of most modern game development is the game engine, which powers the player’s experience and makes it easier for teams to build new games. Popular engines like Unity or Unreal Engine provide common functionality that can be reused across multiple games, allowing game creators to build something unique for their games, which not only saves time and money, but also upgrades the playing field, Allowing small teams to compete with big studios.
Still, the fundamental role of game engines relative to the rest of the game hasn’t really changed over the past 20 years. Although the engines have increased the number of services they provide, from graphics rendering and audio feedback to multiplayer gameplay and social services, as well as post-release data analysis and in-game advertising, most engines are still released in the form of codebases, each game All are fully packaged.
However, when thinking about the Metaverse, the engine takes on a more important role. In order to break down the walls that divide games or experiences, it is likely that games will be packaged and run within the engine, and not otherwise. In this expanded perspective, engines become platforms, and the communication between those engines will largely define what I think is a shared Metaverse.
Take Roblox for example. The Roblox platform provides key services like Unity or Unreal Engine, including graphics rendering, audio playback, physics, and multiplayer. However, it also offers other unique services, like player avatars and identities that can be shared within its game category; expanded social services, including shared friend lists; rich security features to help keep communities safe, and help players create new games tools and resource library.
Yet Roblox isn’t enough as a Metaverse, because it’s a walled garden. While there is limited sharing between games on the Roblox platform, there is no sharing or interoperability between Roblox and other game engines or game platforms.
To fully unlock the Metaverse, game engine developers must innovate in interoperability and composability, improve multiplayer services, and automate testing services.
Interoperability and Composability
To unlock the Metaverse and deliver the kind of experience described at the beginning of this article, these virtual worlds will require unprecedented levels of cooperation and interoperability. While it is possible for a single company to control the common platform that powers the global Metaverse, it is neither desirable nor possible. Instead, decentralized game engine platforms are more likely to emerge.
Of course, when it comes to decentralization technology, we have to mention Web3, which refers to a series of technologies that build and use smart agreements based on blockchain to achieve decentralization by handing over control of key networks and services to users or developers. Centralized ownership. In particular, concepts such as composability and interoperability in web3 help address some of the core issues facing the evolution towards the Metaverse, especially identity and private property, and a lot of research and R&D is going into the core Web3 infrastructure .
Still, while I think Web3 will be a key component in refactoring game engines, it’s not a one-size-fits-all solution.
One of the most obvious uses of Web3 technology in the Metaverse is where users can buy and own items, such as a piece of virtual real estate or clothing for a digital avatar. Since transactions written to the blockchain are a public record, purchasing items in the form of NFTs makes it theoretically possible to own an item and use it across multiple Metaverse platforms.
However, I don’t think this can happen until the following issues are resolved:
A single-user identity, which players can use to move between virtual worlds or games with a single coherent identity, is necessary for matchmaking, content attribution, and blocking malicious accounts. One service that tries to solve this problem is Hello, they are a multi-stakeholder collaboration seeking a user-centric vision of identity to transform personal identities, primarily Web2-based centralized identities. Still others use web3 decentralized identities, such as Spruce, which lets users control their digital identities through wallet keys.Meanwhile, Sismo is a modular protocol that uses zero-knowledge proofs to enable decentralized identity management.
Uniform content format so that content can be shared between engines. Today, each engine has its own dedicated format, which is necessary for performance. However, in order to exchange content between engines, there needs to be a standard open format, like Pixar’s Universal Scene Description (USD) for movies, another is Nvidia’s Omniverse. However, all content types require standards.
Cloud content storage so that content needed by a game can be located and accessed by others. Now, the content a game needs is usually either packaged into the game as a release build, or downloaded over the network (which can be accelerated through a CDN). For content that needs to be shared across different worlds, there needs to be a standard way to query and retrieve that content.
Shared payment mechanism so that Metaverse owners have the economic incentive to circulate resources between different Metaverses. The sale of digital assets is one of the main ways that platform holders are compensated, especially in the free model, so in order to incentivize platform owners to deregulate, resource owners can pay a “cork fee” for using their resources on the platform “. Or, if the relevant resource is very famous, the Metaverse might be willing to pay resource owners to bring their resources into their world.
Standardized functions so that a Metaverse can know how to use certain items. If I want to bring my expensive sword into your game and use it to kill monsters, your game needs to know that it’s a sword, not just a nice sticker. One way to address this is to try to create a taxonomy of standard object interfaces that each Metaverse can choose to support or not support, and categories can include weapons, vehicles, clothing, or furniture.
Align the look and feel so content assets can transform their look and feel to match the universe that needs to be entered. For example, if I own a high-tech sports car and I want to use it in a steampunk themed world, then the car needs to be converted to a steam engine drive to enter the world, which may require my resources to know how to do it , or have the upcoming Metaverse world offer an optional look and feel.
Improved multiplayer system
One area to focus on is the importance of multiplayer and social features, as more and more people are online gamers these days because games with social features are much more lucrative than single-player games. Since the Metaverse is by definition fully social, it will face various problems unique to the online experience. Social games must watch out for harassment and incivility, they are also more likely to lose players to DDoS attacks, and often must run servers in data centers around the world to minimize player lag and provide the best player experience.
Given the importance of multiplayer to modern games, we still lack a fully competitive solution. Engines like Unreal Engine or Roblox, and solutions like Photon or PlayFab provide these basic capabilities, but there are holes like advanced matching that developers need to address themselves.
Innovations in multiplayer game systems must include:
With serverless multiplayer gameplay, developers can implement authoritative game logic and automatically host and scale in the cloud without worrying about the actual game server running.
Advanced matching helps players quickly find opponents of the same level to play the game, and introduces AI tools to help determine player skills and rankings. In the Metaverse, this is especially important as matches become wider.
Anti-harassment and address incivility tool to help identify and drive out malicious players. Any company hosting the Metaverse needs to worry about this, as netizens will no longer be spending insecure space, especially when they can jump to another world without loss.
Guilds or clans that help players get together with others, whether it’s competing with other groups or simply wanting a more social sharing experience. The Metaverse is also full of opportunities for players to collaborate with other players in pursuit of common goals, creating opportunities for services like forging or hosting guilds, and syncing with external community tools like Discord.
Automated Testing Services
When launching any online game, testing is an expensive bottleneck, as small groups of game testers have to constantly experiment to make sure everything works as expected, with no glitches or bugs.
Games that skip this step are at risk. For example, the much-anticipated “Cyberpunk 2077” has been condemned by players for its hasty release with a large number of game bugs. However, since the Metaverse is an “open world” game with no set course, its testing can be prohibitively expensive.
One way to alleviate this bottleneck problem is to develop automated testing tools, such as AI characters that can play games like players, can be used to find game bugs and find faults. Another advantage of this technology is that it can make believable AI players, which can not only replace real players who accidentally disconnect, but also make the early matching of multiplayer games smoother and prevent players from waiting for a long time.
Innovations in automated testing services may include:
Automatically train new characters by observing how real players interact with the game world. One of the benefits of this approach is that the character gets smarter, and the longer the Metaverse runs, the more believable it appears.
Automatically identify bugs or bugs, and include deep links that jump directly to bugs, so real testers can rediscover the problem and fix it.
Replacing real players with AI characters, so that when a player is disconnected due to an accident, the impact on the game experience of other players will not be so severe. The feature also raises some interesting questions, such as whether players can “list” to the AI at any time, or even “train” their own substitutes to play on their behalf. Will ‘AI Assistants’ become a new category in tournaments?
Creative Level: Refactoring Content Production
As 3D rendering technology becomes more powerful, the amount of digital content required to create a game continues to grow. For example, the latest racing game “Forza Horizon 5”, which is the Forza series game with the largest download package in history, requires more than 100G of hard disk space, and the previous generation only required 60G. This is just the tip of the iceberg, the initial “source art file” created by the artists may be many times larger. The increase in the number of assets is mainly due to the increasing size and quality of these virtual worlds, which have high detail and higher fidelity.
Considering the Metaverse again, the demand for high-quality digital content will continue to increase as more and more experiences begin to move from the real world to the digital world.
This has already happened in film and television. The most recent Disney+ series, The Mandalorian, ushered in a new era by filming on a “virtual set” running in Unreal Engine. This is revolutionary in that it reduces production time and cost while increasing the scale and quality of the final product, and more and more TV movies will be shot this way in the future.
In addition, due to the high cost of full preservation storage, unlike physical film scenes, which are usually torn down after shooting, digital film scenes can be easily stored for reuse in the future. In fact, it therefore makes sense to invest more and build a fully real world that can be reused later to make a full interactive experience. Hopefully in the future, we’ll see these worlds offered to other creators to create new content in these fictional real-life scenarios, further advancing the Metaverse.
And then consider how content is created, which is increasingly being created by artists scattered around the world. One of the lasting effects of the COVID-19 pandemic has been the long-term push for remote R&D. With teams all over the world, often working from home, the benefits of telecommuting are clear: the ability to hire talent anywhere, but the costs are huge, including creative collaboration, synchronization The massive resources required to build a modern game and the challenges of maintaining IP security.
Given these challenges, I see three areas of innovation in digital content production: AI-assisted content creation tools, cloud resource management, authoring and publishing systems, and collaborative content production.
AI-assisted content creation
Today, essentially all digital content is created manually, adding to the time and cost required for modern game distribution. Some games have tried “procedural content generation” to generate new dungeons or worlds through algorithms, but building these algorithms themselves can be very difficult.
However, a new wave of AI-assisted tools is on the way to help artists and non-artists create content faster and at higher quality, reducing the cost of content production and democratizing the task of game production.
This is especially important for the Metaverse, since almost everyone can be a creator, but not everyone can create world-class art. By art, I mean the entire category of digital resources, including virtual worlds, interactive characters, music and sound effects, and more.
Innovations in AI-assisted content creation will include tools for transforming images, videos, or other real-world artifacts into digital assets, such as 3D models, textures, and animations. Examples include Kinetix, which creates animations from video, Luma Labs, which creates 3D models from pictures, and COLMAP, which creates 3D spaces from still photos.
Creative assistants who take direction from artists will also innovate and create new resources. For example, suppose that a 3D model can be generated from a hand-drawn sketch. Both Inworld.ai and Charisma.ai use AI to create characters that players can interact with, and DALL-E can generate images from natural language input.
An important aspect of using AI-assisted content creation as part of game creation is repeatability. Because creators must frequently go back and make changes, it is not enough to store the output of an AI tool. Game creators must store the entire set of instructions that created the asset, so that artists can go back and make changes later, or duplicate the asset and modify it for a new purpose.
Cloud resource management, build and release system
One of the biggest challenges game studios have to face when making modern games is managing all the content needed to create a compelling experience. Today, this is still an open problem with no standardized solution; each studio has to cobble together its own solution.
To explain the difficulty of this problem, consider the amount of data involved. A large game may require millions of files of different types, including textures, models, characters, animations, levels, visual effects, sound effects, recorded dialogue, and music.
Each of these files will be changed repeatedly during production, so it is necessary to keep a copy of these changes in case the creator needs to go back to an earlier version. Today, artists typically meet this need by simply renaming files (eg, forest-ogre-2.2.1), which has led to a proliferation of files. Due to the nature of these files, this can take up a lot of storage space, as they are often large, difficult to compress, and each version must be stored separately. This is different from source code, which can store changes to each version itself. This is because with many content files, such as artwork, changing even a small part of the image can change the entire file.
Also, these files don’t exist in isolation, they are part of an overall process, often referred to as a content pipeline, which describes how all these individual content files fit together to create a playable game. During this process, the “source art” files created by the artist are converted through a series of intermediate files and assembled into “game assets”, which are then used by the game engine.
Today’s content creation pipelines are not very intelligent and are often unaware of the dependencies that exist between assets. For example, pipelines often don’t know the specific texture of a 3D basket held by a farmer character within the level. Therefore, whenever any resource is changed, the entire pipeline must be rebuilt to ensure that all changes are cleaned up and merged. This is a time-consuming process that can take hours or more, slowing down creative iteration.
The needs of the Metaverse will compound these problems and create new ones. For example, the Metaverse will be bigger than the biggest games of the day, so all the content storage issues will exist right now.Additionally, the “always on” nature of the Metaverse means that new content needs to be streamed directly into the game engine, it is impossible to “stop” the Metaverse to create new versions, the Metaverse needs to be able to dynamically update itself. To achieve composability goals, remote and distributed creators need to access source assets, create their own derivatives, and then share them with others.
Meeting these needs of the Metaverse will create two major opportunities for innovation. First, artists needed a Github-like, easy-to-use resource management system that would give them the same level of version control and collaboration tools as developers. Such a system needs to be integrated with all the popular authoring tools such as Photoshop, Blender and Sound Forge, and Mudstack is an example of a company focusing on this space.
Second, there is still a lot to do with content pipeline automation, which can modernize and standardize the art pipeline. This includes exporting source assets to intermediate formats and converting those intermediate formats into game assets. Smart pipelines will be aware of the dependency graph and be able to build incrementally so that when resources change, only those files with downstream dependencies will be redone, greatly reducing the time it takes to view new content in-game .
Improved collaboration tools
Despite the distributed, collaborative nature of modern game studios, many of the professional tools used in game production are still centralized, single-creator tools. For example, by default, both the Unity and Unreal Engine level editors only support one plan editing one level at a time, which slows down the creative process because teams can’t work on the same world in parallel.
On the other hand, both Minecraft and Roblox support co-editing, which is one reason why both platforms are so popular, despite their lack of other professional features. Once you see a group of kids building a city together in Minecraft, it’s impossible to imagine them building it any other way. I believe collaboration will be an important feature of the Metaverse, allowing creators to build and test their work together online.
Overall, the collaboration on game development will enable real-time in almost every aspect of the game-building process. To unlock the Metaverse, some of the evolutions in the way of writing include:
Real-time collaborative world building, so multiple level planners or “world builders” can edit the same physical environment at the same time and see each other’s changes in real time, with full version control and change tracking. Ideally, level planning should be able to switch seamlessly between play and editing for the fastest iteration possible. Some studios are experimenting with this using proprietary tools, such as Ubisoft’s AnvilNext game engine, while Unreal Engine has experimented with real-time collaboration as a beta feature originally built to support TV and film production .
Real-time content review and approval, so teams can experience and discuss their work together, and group discussions have always been a key part of the creative process. Movies have long had a “daily” segment where production teams can review their day-to-day work together. Most game studios have a large room with a big screen for group discussions. But the tools used for remote R&D are much weaker, and screen sharing in tools like Zoom isn’t high enough fidelity to accurately censor the digital world. One solution for gaming might be “spectator mode”, in which The entire team can log in and watch from the perspective of a single player. Another goal is to improve the quality of screen sharing, trading less compression for higher fidelity, including faster frame rates, stereo sound, more accurate color matching, and the ability to pause and annotate. Such tools should also integrate with task tracking and assignment, a problem that companies trying to solve include frame.io and sohonet.
Real-time world adjustments, so curators can adjust any of the thousands of parameters that define a modern game or virtual world and experience the results immediately. This adjustment process is critical to creating a fun, balanced experience, but often these numbers are hidden in spreadsheets or configuration files that are difficult to edit and impossible to adjust in real-time. Some game studios have tried using Google Sheets for this purpose, whereby changes made to configuration values can be pushed immediately to the game server to update the way the game behaves, but the Metaverse needs something more powerful.A side benefit of this feature is that these same parameters can also be modified for live events or new content updates, making it easier for non-programmers to author new content. For example, a designer could create a special event dungeon and store monsters in it that are harder than usual to defeat, but which drop very nice rewards.
A virtual game studio that exists entirely in the cloud, where game creator team members (artists, programmers, planners, etc.) can log in from anywhere, on any device (including low-end PCs or tablets), and into high-end A game development platform and a complete game resource library. Remote desktop tools like Parsec play a role in this, but it’s not just remote desktop capabilities, but also creative tool licensing and resource management capabilities.
Experience Layer: Reconstructing Online Operation Services
The final layer of reorganization of the Metaverse involves creating the necessary tools and services to actually operate the Metaverse itself, which is arguably the hardest part. Building an immersive world is one thing, but running a world with millions of players around the world 24/7 is another.
Developers must address:
The social challenges of running any large-scale autonomous region can be filled with residents who don’t always get along and need to adjudicate disputes.
The economic challenges of effectively running a central bank include its ability to create new money and monitor the origin and sink of money to control inflation and deflation.
The monetization challenge of running a modern business website can have thousands or even millions of items sold, and the need for promotions, offers, and in-world marketing tools.
Understand the analytical challenges of events happening in real time across the wide world so they can be quickly alerted before problems escalate beyond their control.
The challenge of communicating with their digital users individually or in groups, as the Metaverse is (in principle) global.
Create regularly updated content challenges to keep their Metaverse growing and leveling up.
To meet all of these challenges, game companies need well-equipped teams with access to extensive back-end infrastructure and the necessary dashboards and tools to be able to operate these services at scale. Two areas particularly suited for innovation are online operational services and in-game commerce.
Online services are an area that is still in its infancy, and commerce tools like PlayFab, Dive, Beamable and Lootlocker are just one part of a complete online operations solution. So most games still have to do their own stack of online services. Ideal solutions include: real-time event calendars with the ability to plan events, predict events, create event templates or clone previous events; personalization, including player segmentation, targeted promotions and offers; messaging, including push notifications, emails and games Inbox, and translation tools to communicate with users in their local language; notification authoring tools that allow non-programmers to author in-game pop-ups and notifications; and tests that simulate upcoming events or new content updates, including when they appear A mechanism for rolling back changes in case of problems.
More mature but still in need of innovation is in-game commerce, and considering that nearly 80% of digital game revenue comes from free-to-play items or other in-game transactions, it’s striking that there is nothing better than in-game economic management. A scheme suitable for the Metaverse.
Existing solutions only solve part of the problem. An ideal solution would need to include an item catalog, including arbitrary metadata for each item; an app store interface for real-money sales; offers and promotions, including limited-time offers and targeted promotions; reporting and analytics, targeted reports and graphs ; UGC, the game can sell content created by its own players and give a percentage of the revenue back to these players; advanced economic systems such as item crafting (combining two items to create a third item), auction house (players can sell each other items), transactions and gifts; and full integration with the web3 world and blockchain.
Next step: transforming the game development team
In this article, I share my perspective on how new technologies will transform composability and interoperability between games, and I hope others in the gaming community will share my excitement about the future potential, and I hope they will be inspired to join me Together, we will build the new kind of company needed to unleash this experience revolution.
This coming wave of change will not only provide opportunities for new software tools and protocols, but will also change the very nature of game studios as the industry moves from a single studio to specialization across new levels.
In fact, I think that in the future, we will see greater specialization in the game production pipeline, and I also think that we will see:
World makers who focus on creating playable worlds, whether realistic or magical, are full of creatures and characters that fit the world. Consider an extremely detailed version of the Wild West made for Red Dead Redemption. Instead of throwing so much into the world for one game, why not repurpose the world to host many games? Why not keep investing in the world and let it grow and develop, shaping itself over time to the needs of these games?
Story curators, who create compelling interactive narratives in these worlds, full of storylines, puzzles, and quests for players to discover and enjoy.
Experience creators who build playable experiences across worlds, focusing on gameplay, reward mechanics, and action scenarios. Creators who can bridge the real and virtual worlds will be especially valuable in the years ahead, as more companies try to bring some of their existing businesses into the Metaverse.
Platform builders who provide the underlying technology that the aforementioned experts use in their work.
Gaming is already the largest segment of the entertainment industry, and will expand further as more and more segments of the economy move online and into the Metaverse. We haven’t even mentioned some of the other exciting new developments on the horizon, like Apple’s new AR headset or Meta’s recently announced new VR prototype…
There has never been a better time to be a creator.
Posted by:CoinYuppie，Reprinted with attribution to:https://coinyuppie.com/a16z-how-to-unlock-the-potential-of-the-metaverse-across-the-walled-garden/
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